Please justify the title A Christmas Carol.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol may not be set to music, but there is little doubt that it qualifies as an unsung melody of the coming of Christ into the hearts of people at Christmas time. The harmony of a heart-warming and sentimental tale is enriched by the visits from the Christmas Spirits, who bring to Scrooge the messages of the warmth of love, and a desire that creates the music of Christmas in his heart.

Interwoven into Dickens's narrative of a cold, lonely man who values little but money are visits from angel-like spirits of Christmases Past, Present, and Future. These spirits, as did those who foretold Christ's coming, bring messages. The Christmas Spirits, for instance, deliver messages to Scrooge that are similar to that of Titus 3:3-5, a verse pertinent to Christmas.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient,...and enslaved by all kinds of passions....We lived in malice...being hated and hating others.
4 But when the kindness and love of God appeared,
5 He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

The cold and miserly Scrooge, who is "enslaved" by his reluctance to give to anyone, is despised. It is only when the Spirit of Christmas Present takes Scrooge to view the Crachit family who, though indigent, love one another and are kind even at the mention of his name, that Scrooge is profoundly affected. Also, when he is allowed to watch his nephew in his happy home, and he hears Fred's hope that Scrooge will be moved by his invitations and will be less bitter, Scrooge becomes a changed man.

One of the messages of Christmas carols is that "Christ came into the world to save sinners." (Timothy1:15-17) The Spirits of Christmas visit Scrooge to save him, and carols are sung on Christmas day as Scrooge carries out his new resolutions. He tells the Spirit,

"I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach...." (Stave Four)

The Spirits of Christmas, representatives of the message of Christmas, assist in the redemption of Ebenezer Scrooge as he embraces the true meaning of Christmas in his heart. He, then, sets out to celebrate with Fred and to assure that the Crachits have the merriest Christmas ever as hope is given to Tiny Tim. Actions that are depicted in the latter staves of Dickens's story relate closely to themes of Christmas carols, motifs that illustrate biblical verses about the coming of the Lord to bring about man's salvation.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In order to justify the title, I think we need to look at the definition of a "carol."  The Webster's dictionary site defines this as

  • a song of joy
  • a ballad of religious joy

Given this definition, I think that the title is appropriate to this book.

The book is a song of joy (and possibly of religious joy) because it follows Scrooge as he changes from being an unhappy and selfish person to being a happy and generous one.  Scrooge ends up as a happier person and that in itself is joyful.  It is religious because Scrooge's changes bring him more into line with what a Christian is supposed to act like, especially at Christmas.